Florrida - The streets snaking through downtown Miami's high-rises
will be buzzing today (March 14 2015) Saturday as commuters make way for dart-shaped
racing cars zooming by at breakneck speeds - but little noise.
race drivers will be competing in the first Formula E race in the
US since the all-electric series was launched in Beijing in
Meanwhile, across the Pacific Ocean, the first Formula 1 race of the 2015 season was happening in Melbourne, Australia.
Now halfway through its inaugural season, Formula E
has offered the same, albeit quieter, thrills as the popular F1 events, with low-slung, opened-wheeled cars capable of 220km/h.
The Beijing race ended with a spectacular crash that sent one of the R6-million Renault cars flying.
Danger and adrenaline are not all that you find on the track, however - and this weekend's racing is expected to draw 50 000 spectators.
Daniel Fernandez, 17, who bought tickets with several high-school
friends to attend the race, said: "It's
really something to see how racing has evolved to fully electric
motors. It could revolutionise racing and transportation in general."
The series was launched by Jean Todt, a French
racing icon and former Ferrari chief executive who heads the International Automobile Federation which oversees F1. It's backed by environmentalist and actor Leonardo DiCaprio
and entrepreneur Richard Branson, whose Virgin Group sponsors a two-car
The federation, which has partnered with Spanish private equity fund
Amura Capital, Qualcomm and cable billionaire John Malone's Liberty
Global, has attracted sponsors such as tyre-maker Michelin and
courier service DHL hoping the series will help the development of
mainstream battery cars.
Ferrari, MD of DHL motorsports, said: "The technology improves unbelievably
once these large companies start investing in research."
The public has
shown an interest and Elon Musk's battery-car company Tesla Motors has already built up a following, although its stock has fallen lately
as it missed sales targets.
Developing a so-called green racing
series has meant overhauling how the races are run. The cars' battery packs cannot
be charged mid-race - it takes to long - so drivers have at some point to pit and switch to
second, fully charged, car.
The cars give off a high-pitched whistling sound, a bit like a dentist's drill, and their pilots must carefully manage their power, a challenge for race cars with a limited battery life.
Jaime Alguersuari, a 24-year-old Spanish driver
with Virgin, explained: "We
have a target (power) consumption per lap and need to respect that
like the Bible. You want to win, but if you burn up all your energy you